Sania: I don't believe in regrets

Sania Mirza celebrates winning the Cincinnati Open with Barbora Strycova. Joe Robbins/Getty Images

After starting her new partnership with Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on a winning note by clinching the Cincinnati Open on Sunday, Sania Mirza has said that she has "no regrets" anymore about having failed to win an Olympic medal in Rio last week.

Sania, who lost the bronze medal play-off in the company of Rohan Bopanna to Radek Stepanek and Lucie Hradeck√°, left Rio in tears, but has bounced back strongly by claiming her sixth title of the year.

Speaking exclusively to ESPN from Cincinnati, Sania admitted that while the loss was "extremely shattering" she is "very proud" to have responded to the emotional turmoil by producing some high quality tennis in the course of the week.

"I don't believe in regrets," Sania said. "As an athlete I can't harp on about whether I made that forehand or someone made a serve or we would have won the match, that's not how sport works. In sports it is just about trying and fighting. Some days you fight and fail and some days you succeed and that's why sport is a great leveler.

"Was it disappointing and extremely shattering? Of course it was, but does that mean my world is over, no of course not. Of course I would have liked to win a medal, its really unfortunate it didn't happen. We tried our best that's all we can do but people have to take things in perspective and understand that we were fourth best in the world. I understand you don't win a medal for that but I will take that, I'd rather be the fourth best than the 100th best."

The final in Cincinnati also provided an additional sub-plot with Sania overcoming former partner Martina Hingis, who played with American Coco Vandeweghe, 7-5, 6-4 in a tightly contested final.

Sania and Hingis had announced the break-up of their hugely successful combination during the Rio Olympics after a string of below-par performances. While not wanting to dwell on the reasons behind their split other than reiterating what was said in their official statement at the time, Sania did concede that playing against Hingis was not the "easiest situation."

"We played each other in the final, which is of course the best time to play each other," she said. "It was not the easiest situation, it is a bit weird. There are nerves but at the end of the day we are tennis players and we have to try and win and do our best and we both tried to do the same thing.

"We had a great partnership but it was time to move on and we have moved on. We've both had a great tournament. I have to look forward and I have to focus all my energy on this partnership which is obviously doing great."

Not surprisingly, Sania was all praise for 30-year old Strycova, who like her plays right-handed with a double-handed backhand. Sania said Strycova was a "great fighter" and as an example, pointed to the final itself where they were trailing 1-5, 15-40 in the first set before storming back to clinch the next six games to pocket the set.

"We are really happy, it was a new partnership and we are obviously very happy and excited to have started this way and winning one of the big tournaments of the year," she said. "We had a really tough draw. We have beaten some big teams and for us it has been an amazing week.

"As professional athletes you have to first see whether you match each other on the court, which is what I thought which is why I approached her to play when that split had happened. Obviously I was right because our playing styles compliment each other. We are similar personalities and we will get to know each other better in the course of time. We fight for every point."

Strycova and Sania now head to New Haven for their last build-up tournament before the US Open in September. Sania won the final Grand slam of the year in 2015 with Hingis as part of a dream run that saw them construct a 41-match winning streak. Sania is hoping to go from strength to strength with Strycova on her most preferred playing surface - hard courts - for the remainder of the season.

"We play 25 weeks a year and we can't peak on all those weeks," she said. "We are going to have times when are going to play our best and lose and sometimes not play our best and still win. That's why longevity counts in tennis and sport.

"Consistent performances matter, its not a flash in the pan of one odd tournament. I have won six tournaments this year and played a bunch of finals which is huge already for this year. The hard courts are my favourite surface. I am looking forward to the next few weeks. I am not going to put any added pressure on myself that this what I need to do or should do."

While Sania has turned to a new women's doubles partner, she is not changing course in the mixed doubles, where she will continue to team up with Ivan Dodig, with who she has played the first three Grand Slams of the year.

Although Sania spoke warmly of her friendship and understanding with Bopanna in Rio, she says that she remains committed to the partnership with the Croat and the prospect of an all Indian pairing is not on the cards in the immediate future.